My Formula for Success


Shreya Jaldu

Until just the past year of high school, I have always been affected by my competition. Although this pushed me to match the level of my peers, I now understand that in actuality, this hindered me as a determined student who wants to achieve success. 

Going off tangent a bit, (it’ll make sense later) let me tell you about my favorite reality TV show, Big Brother. I always had my weekly alarms set and the first one near the TV. I loved the show as I had something to look forward to every week and it also brought me a lot closer to my mom and sister. 

When you look at two sports teams tackling each other to the ground without having any regard for each other, you know they are rivals. When you look at a predator and its prey, you know that they don’t particularly like each other. But the biggest rivals to exist are me and my sister. We will argue about everything in the entire mundo, and as we are family, it never gets resolved and kind of slithers it’s way through some spontaneous fights. But delightfully, I was able to always beat her in one thing: figuring out who was going to win the game in Big Brother.

Something I have noticed over the years from watching the show is that the person who you expect to win always loses. It’s never the brainiac who takes home the prize from a scholastic competition at the end of the day. It’s never the athletic person with a six-pack that always appears to be victorious in any physical match. It is always the person sitting comfortably in power that wins. And what’s so special about the person in power? The only thing that distinguishes them compared to the rest of the players is that they have confidence and faith in themselves which makes them less stressed and consequently, feel less pressure. 

It shows that everything is just a mind game. For instance, I remember after not studying for a midterm (to be honest, I just forgot about it), I didn’t really start worrying until I saw all my friends stressing out about it. When the time came to actually take the exam, that was all that filled my mind. It had me asking myself, “How truly prepared am I for this exam?” As soon as I saw all of them like this, it started to make me freak out like any anxious student would. Going into online learning, I cannot physically see any of my friends’ uneasiness about upcoming exams, so even when I wake up at 6 a.m. to study for a test I have at 8:30, I feel less stress on my shoulders than I usually do. And not to my surprise, I do very well on my exams even when I do not always study as hard for them. I owe a significant part of my good grades to maintaining a composed mindset and being relaxed.

Personally, the best way for me to become relaxed and avoid having my peers’ stress radiate onto me is by practicing meditation. It took me a long time to get accustomed to it, but once I did, it was truly a game changer. It has helped me become the best version of myself, in terms of thinking on my own and redirecting my focus in dire situations. It gives me a sense of serenity during stressful times of midterms, college apps, finals, and just life in general. After all, it is just a mind game. 

Additionally, I think a huge component of success comes from being unique and trying to be different. When we define the word “progress” we typically tend to think in numbers — our class ranking, GPA, or how many major accomplishments we each have. However, this is not the right definition. When we try to quantify growth solely with numbers, it places us in a restrictive bubble. This essentially traps and prevents us from expressing ourselves in an impactful way to society. Growth means advancing in your own unique way and being able to think outside of the box. This comes from having the creative freedom to think far beyond what we learn in school and applying it to real life situations we come across. So, let’s re-evaluate. If we always stress out about the numbers we get defined by from our classes and limit ourselves to form our entire lives only around subjects we learn in school, we can never make a groundbreaking discovery or conduct a life-changing research study. 

Relaxation is paired with optimal thinking capacity which allows us to be more creative in every which way. This is my formula for success: strive to be composed and use less brainpower to overthink about unnecessary components. Redirect this power to thinking outside the box and reading between lines of everything we stumble across in life.